Alter Ego

As a runner, sometimes the going gets tough. When your legs are tired and there are still miles to go, when you just want to quit and stop, you have to find a way to keep going.

There are many strategies to fight the urge to give in, to beat “the wall,” to push through the “pain cave.” People come up with mantras or quotes to inspire them, some practice visualization. Others try to use sheer will power. One technique I read about recently is to come up with an “alter ego” – to get out of your own head and become someone else; stronger, grittier, tougher. I’ve thought about this for a few days. Who would I be, who would I channel? Wonder Woman? She’s determined and incredibly powerful. Not afraid to get her hands dirty. Maybe Jyn Erso, from the Star Wars movie Rogue One. She was self reliant, cunning, and never gave up, fighting until the very end. Or what about Black Widow, from the Marvel Movies? She’s just badass.

What do I really do when the going gets tough? I fall back on what I know, what has helped me get through some of the most difficult situations I have been in. The thing I have learned to do is call on God and the scripture I have memorized. There really is power in the Word of God.

The Alter Ego I choose to channel is the Apostle Paul, who by the way uses the metaphor of running many times in the New Testament. This is what I do when my legs are tired and I feel like I can’t go on:

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Run in such as way as to get the prize… 1 Corinthians 9:24

I press on toward the goal… Philippians 3:14

The Apostle Paul knew how to suffer. He was taken prisoner, flogged, beaten, survived 3 shipwrecks, had been in danger of rivers and bandits, gone without sleep, suffered hunger and thirst. (2 Cor 11:16-33) And yet he never stopped believing in the Gospel. He never gave up hope, he continued his course, he had joy in it all. He had peace in it all. How? This is impossible! Yes, it is, without God. But with God, we can have peace, joy, comfort and hope in the middle of whatever we are going through.

Depression started for me around age 15. I have called it the thorn in my flesh because, like the Apostle Paul, God has chosen to not take it away. “My grace is sufficient for you.” I have fought hard with depression and almost let it beat me a few times. I have wanted to quit, to give up. Let me tell you his grace is sufficient. Running is a huge part of keeping depression away. And medication. And my faith. If one piece of this puzzle gets misplaced, I suffer. Running long, it brings you to the end of yourself. You are left raw and exposed. This is where God wants you. This is where He can reach you. When all else is stripped away, He is there, waiting with open arms. This is the place of comfort.

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. How are you going to handle disappointment, fear, unexpected anything? Whatever situation you find yourself in, seek God.

Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 TLB

Life is hard. But there is one who walks through the trials with us. One who loves us and who will never leave us. We only need to believe and trust him.

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My Why, part 1

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” ~ Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire.

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’ ~ John 6:35

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir

One of these days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to pray in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.” ~ John Muir

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad’ let the sea resound, and all that is in it’ let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy. ~ Psalm 96: 11-12

“We need the tonic of wilderness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods.

I can’t explain how being alone in God’s creation, without distractions changes my mindset. Something different goes on in my brain. Couple that with running, and the benefit in my brain chemistry from that, it’s like a perfect combination for my mental and spiritual health. I feel closer to God and am more apt to give thanks and to worship. So many of my daily prayers are asking for things. So many people I know are going through hard things. As I am praying for God to change their circumstances or intervene in their lives, I sometimes neglect all the good. There is SO much good! It can get burried under the weight of our worry, our concern, our apathy.  Now and then people ask me why I run, especially why I run so far. This – these discombobulated group of words, gives a peek into my why.

Being out on a trail is a reminder that God is good. He doesn’t change. He is my true foundation. He is trustworthy. He is mighty. He is my rock, my fortress, of whom shall I be afraid? All is right with the world for the time I am on the trails. There are no worries, just pure joy. And I am filled with peace. Jesus is our example, going into solitary places and away from mankind to commune with the Father. To recharge, to enjoy!

Learning to Rest

Day 8 of no running. I seem to have caught a cold. It’s not the flu, but it’s got me down and out. My mind is craving the run. It needs that space, fresh air, and clarity. My body needs the rhythm of the run, my heart wants to beat a little faster, my lungs want to breathe a little deeper.

In my beginning running days I would have fretted about messing up my training plans. I would have worried about not getting enough miles in. And I would have run by now. And then I would be sicker. Of course I know this from personal experience. Now, I’m older and hopefully wiser, without rest, not only will this cold last longer or develop into something worse, I’m probably going to have a Lupus flare. This is the sucky part of autoimmune disease. You don’t recover quickly from colds. All the things that shortened my colds before like echinacea or Zinc, etc now overstimulate my immune system more than it already is. Apparently it’s confused and attacks perfectly good cells and organs. Don’t forget that Hashimoto’s Disease loves to attack my thyroid as well!

I have two choices, be bitter or be thankful. I choose to be thankful. Yes, I do complain at times, but it doesn’t change anything except it adds stress. So I am thankful for the bit of good in every day. It’s there, when you look. I’m thankful for my husband, who is patient and kind. I’m thankful for my kids that pick up my slack. I’m thankful for my dogs that snuggle with me. I’m thankful for my God, my Savior, my comforter, my counselor, my Abba Father.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

I can’t wait to get out and run again! Just to run! In the meantime I’ll be resting as much as possible and trying not to be jealous of all my running friends!!

Run with Endurance

Stress. Anger. Hurt. Regret. Sadness. Emotions ran wild on my last run. I pounded out miles as I poured out my thoughts into prayer. Instead of feeling comfort from God I felt convicted. He turned my thoughts from the wrongs I felt from others and pointed me deep into my own heart. I did not like what I saw. Selfish. Unforgiving. Indifference. Pride. I tried to justify myself; these were just thoughts, not actions. I would never speak or act on these thoughts. They are too unkind. I am a kind person. And yet God continued to convict me. He would not let me ignore what He had shown me. I did not want to face it, not because I didn’t believe it, but because I did not want to give in. I did not want to change, I did not want to care more, share more or love more.

The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. Psalm 145:8

Because God is so good, He makes us feel better, LOVED, once our sins are finally exposed and we recognize our utter dependence on Jesus.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify is from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

I’m a work in progress. I have been justified by the work of Jesus on the cross and I am being sanctified every day through the work of the Holy Spirit. Someday I will be perfected in heaven. It saddens me that I still struggle with such basic sins. We never get beyond our need for the Gospel.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race marked out for us. He brews 12:1

Run with endurance. When I am running long and start feeling tired, I often use that phrase as a mantra. But there’s so much more to it. We can’t run well if we are entangled in sin. The path is clearly marked, I need to stay on the right path, narrow as it may be, it’s the best path.

The Gift of Running

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. ~ Psalm 104:33-34

When I run trails I am much more focused on my surroundings. I am looking where I step, watching my footing, listening for animals (especially rattlesnakes, thank goodness they are not out in the winter). My senses seem more awake on trails. Light catches my eye as yucca plants are highlighted by the rising sun, birds sing louder and clearer, wildflowers give heavenly scents. I can’t help but think of my creator, who made all of the earth and saw it was good.

My thoughts are raw and unfiltered. There is so much chaos. So I pray. I seek forgiveness and grace. I need clarity. Running becomes my meditation. I lift my eyes, I seek his face. I feel his love wash over me and I am calm. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 Thank God this is not all there is. He has gifted us glimpses of himself, and that is the hope I need. My faith is renewed. Hope is restored.

I thank God for the gift running has given me. When I started up several years ago, I only  hoped to lose weight. I had no idea what I would gain through running, least of all a closer relationship to God and ease of depression. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 God truly is the God of hope. I am so grateful that He brought running back into my life. I’m grateful for the friendships it has given me, the places I’ve been able to travel to and the opportunity to share my love of running through coaching.

 

Purpose

Purpose: 

  • Noun. The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc. Determination; resoluteness.
  • Verb. To set as an aim or intention or goal for oneself.

I have never really had resolutions or themes for the new year, but as I am getting older and looking at where I am and the things I would like to accomplish, thinking about these things and actually having some forethought might help me acheive these goals.

I chose the word Purpose, because I know that without it, I am just allowing life to happen around me. I am tired of flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve been able to get by so far, but as I age and see those around me merely responding to what life throws at them instead of having a direction, I know this is not the path I want to go down.

How am I going to apply Purpose to my life? First things first. God must be my priority. If I really want to start right, I must ask God what His purpose is for me each day. I must be willing to listen, and act as well.

For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Because I have Hashimoto’s and Lupus I have to take my diet seriously. This takes great effort on my part and I have not eaten with purpose lately. It shows not only in my waistline, but in my levels of fatigue, body aches, and headaches. I must be purposeful about planning meals and cooking my food. In addition, it will certainly be helpful to the rest of my family to have healthy home cooked meals.

Rest is something else I must do with purpose. It is actually one thing I am good at when I need to. I have learned the hard way if I don’t rest with purpose, my body will shut down and force me to at the most inopportune time.

I have some big running goals for 2018. I’m already starting the year off with some niggles that I need to address if I want to continue to train hard. Cross training, strength training and core work must be added. They do have a purpose, even if I don’t like to do them!! I must remember this reasoning, especially when I start to complain about it. Each run has a purpose as well. Some are to focus on endurance, some speed, some hills, and some recovery. I don’t need to just run more, I need each run to have a purpose. This is what will help me cross the finish line of another 50K and my first 50 miler healthy and injury free.

 

 

 

 

A Friend Closer than a Sister

I have been extremely fortunate to have made a few very close friends in my adult life. Even though miles have separated us, when we talk on the phone or see each other, it’s like there hasn’t been any separation at all. These friendships are the ones where you can spill your guts, pour out your heart, truly be yourself and not be judged. You can be honest with each other, pray with and for each other, confess and seek advice.

I have been training with one of these friends. Running miles together, you see each other through all emotions from elation on the first double digits to anguish when you think you can’t take one more step and everything in between.

My friend allowed me to guide her along for her first marathon. We ran that marathon on Sunday. I don’t think it was what either of us expected, but as the saying goes, a marathon will change your life, whether it’s your first or 5th. Miles 19-21 were pretty quiet and I recognized that dark place that can show up in a race in both of us. She prayed, I prayed and by mile 22 we were laughing in our misery together. We ran the last .2 miles across the finish line together changed people.

I’ve had time to reflect on this race and our friendship and Proverbs 18:24 has kept running through my head.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The funny thing is, many people ask us if we are sisters or even twins. We get such a laugh out of it. Even if we are not related, we truly are sisters in Christ. I am beyond blessed with her friendship. I am thankful for the people God has brought into my life, but particularly for the deep friendships on a spiritual level. God knows what we need before we ask and he answered with my friends.